I Hope That’s a Zucchini In Your Pocket

I’m pretty sure that the title of this post is one of the early sentences I translated into French because I felt like it was relevant to my future success. Such a sexy veggie that zucchini. I don’t suggest keeping them in your pocket (if you do, indeed, have one there) but I do recommend trying one of the following recipes (and giving me feedback for my own experimentation).

Salt and Pepper Zucchini Chips

Salt and Pepper Zucchini Chips

Garden Zucchini Parmesan Biscuits

Garden Zucchini Parmesan Biscuits

 

Baked Parmesan Zucchini Sticks

Baked Parmesan Zucchini Sticks

Garlicky and Cheesy Quinoa Zucchini Fritters

Garlicky and Cheesy Quinoa Zucchini Fritters

Zucchini Parmesan

Zucchini Parmesan

Eggplant and Zucchini Gratin

Eggplant and Zucchini Gratin

Lemon-Garlic Zucchini

Lemon-Garlic Zucchini

Zucchini Frittata with Mozzarella, Feta, and Parmesan

Zucchini Frittata with Mozzarella, Feta, and Parmesan

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Advertisements

French Toast Heaven Has Been Found!

Founding Farmers - Rockville

Founding Farmers – Rockville: Also known fondly as, that place where the food is amazing and yes we can definitely go back there. (Follow link to restaurant website)

Ranting about good food is just a built in part of my nature at this point. And I’m sure I’ve ranted about Founding Farmers before because I’ve been there several times and taken people there from out of town because, well, it’s impressive and I like making sure that visitors to DC remember it fondly, especially as a foodie capitol (which it most definitely is in my book).

Also, I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before that my parents aren’t big fans of going out to eat. Why? Because they are sure to tell me every time I go out that they think it’s a waste. Although, usually it’s my dad saying that and my mom wonders out loud why she doesn’t ever get to go out somewhere nice… And I feel bad sometimes because they don’t do stuff like that mostly because they’re busy paying for our house and (yes we only have one) car. Oh, and have I mentioned that my little brother is rather expensive on the upkeep costs? He’s still young enough that being supported is acceptable but still. Children are expensive.

But with my dad gone and my mom pulling all-nighters to get this work done for Yemen she hasn’t been in much of a mood to cook so if we’re at home I’ve been doing it or we’ve been eating up leftovers. And on Sunday we had to do a bit of driving to get my brother to a competition and my mom decided that we would be eating out that day. So we arranged to stop at Founding Farmers at their Rockville location (near my Gma’s house) on the way back home.

Can I hear a “Best Idea EVER!”, please? I had, as of Sunday, never actually made it to any Founding Farmers (or sister restaurants) before  for brunch. I had tried twice before but due to some flooding–or inclement weather or some such nonsense out of their control–they had always ended up closing and so no brunch for me. Until Sunday…

Having been to their DC restaurant several times before I new the majority of the regular menu and was glad that one of the few times I’d managed to get a parent to one of my favorite restaurants that they had a really good vegetarian selection. We also had another friend with us for the weekend who happened to be vegetarian as well so that worked out nicely. And I don’t eat a lot of meat and if I do rarely for brunch because I like waffles and stuff and meat and waffles is a line I’m not really ready to cross and I doubt I ever will. Eggs, sure. But that’s about it. My brother on the other hand, has completely gone off the deep end and embraced his caveman roots and does eat rather a lot more meat than the rest of us.

We started with the basics, their lovely bread with various dips and “smears” and fried green tomatoes (because those are one of the key arguments I had used to get my mom to go there in the first place. If you think I like fried green tomatoes… Guess who taught me to like them…? Actually it was my Gpa but it’s my mom’s dad and it’s all flows down the generations nicely like that).

I’m not going to go into all sorts of details about what everyone ordered because that would be annoying. I am, however, going to discuss what I ordered because I’ve become hyper aware that I’ve just been eating sub-par french toast for an incredibly long time and now I feel the need to right this wrong.

I ordered this:

Stuffed New Orleans Style French Toast

Vanilla Pastry Cream

  • Original – 8
  • Lillian’s Blueberry Compote- 10 {<– with this}
  • Bananas Foster – 10

and I’m pretty sure I will never again be able to eat regular plain french toast ever again. For those of you who don’t know, vanilla pastry cream is very similar to what they fill eclairs with. In fact I think it is what they fill eclairs with in theory but this was even better. It was very similar to a homemade custard with vanilla bean (as opposed to that smooth gelatin-y stuff you find in a Boston Cream doughnut).

Now, I know I won’t be able to properly recreate this without some serious time and effort and possible some kitchen equipment that I don’t yet own. But progress is still possible. For instance I just looked up a compote recipe and this is the only one with a decent pictures. It is on pancakes which makes me sad because… well they are pancakes, but not sad enough to prevent me from sharing.

Blueberry Pancakes with Blueberry Compote

“Blueberry Pancakes with Blueberry Compote” from KitchenDaily

And here’s a video for making a pastry cream that I think looks about right: Pastry Cream Recipe from Joy the Baker.

So we’re working towards something similar at least. Now to figure out how to make the bread (which is really more like fluffy cake) into the  right shape and get the cream inside…. That will take more work but I’m sure a combination in the right quantities and some creative eating can get me close enough to say that I’m on the right track.

 

The Close to a Great Month: National Grilled Cheese Month

How many of you actually remembered that April is National Grilled Cheese Month? How many of you think it should be moved to a more appropriate month? Like January of February… Hmmm? Yeah. Think how much sexier it would be to get (and eat) a grilled cheese on V-Day.

Well I didn’t come up with April for this fantabulous food of amazing but someone did and I’ve been honoring those who made up foodie holidays before me. But I think that me and my Foodie Nation need to make a few changes here and move the month long celebration to a month where we’re not thinking about bathing suits and getting tanned in places that haven’t seen the sun in a while. But in all fairness, grilled cheese is amazing all year round and always will be. So here is my compilation of all the grilled cheese sandwiches I have seen and approved of this month:

Corned Beef Sandwich with Guinness Caramelized Onions and Grainy Mustard

“Corned Beef Sandwich with Guinness Caramelized Onions and Grainy Mustard” from Closet Cooking

Parmigiano & Fig Grilled Cheese

“Parmigiano & Fig Grilled Cheese” from Love & Lemons

Grilled Beer and Cheese Sandwich

“Grilled Beer and Cheese Sandwich” from Honest Fare

This recipe actually uses homemade beer bread so heck yeah I approve.

French Onion Grilled Cheese Sandwich

“French Onion Grilled Cheese Sandwich” from Portuguese Girl Cooks

Roasted Red Pepper Portobello Goat Cheese Grilled Cheese

“Roasted Red Pepper Portobello Goat Cheese Grilled Cheese” from BS’ In The Kitchen

BS’ In the Kitchen kept up with the Grilled Cheese Month a lot better than I did so check out the site for even MORE.

Spinach and artichoke Grilled Cheese Sandwich

“Spinach and artichoke Grilled Cheese Sandwich” from Joy the Baker

Check out the link to see all the “how to” photos that go along with the recipe.

Breakfast Grilled Cheese

“Breakfast Grilled Cheese” from Grilled Cheese Social

There are also some “how-to” photos with this one and it’s made on a bagel. I like bagels.

 

Because Breakfast Should Never Be Half-Assed (Day 4)

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

“Cinnamon Swirl Bread” From Family Kitchen

Wednesday night is actually my least favorite night to cook because my whole family is home with nothing to do. But it is a relatively good night (time wise) to try and make something a little more complicated like this Cinnamon Swirl Bread from Family Kitchen. While the bread is doing its little thing in the kitchen I will probably be watching “House of Cards” with my parents in the living room.

Also, there are no raisins in this recipe and I like that. I hate raisins and most cinnamon breads like this have raisins in them.

J’ai Faim

I hate how hungry my job makes me. It’s not always a physically tasking position (although there is always New Student Orientation and those darned meetings all over the place) but it is an emotionally and energy draining one. Perhaps my running of this blog while I eagerly await students with some SERIOUS issues (anything other than “I’m failing and I don’t know why… Attendance? What does attendance have to do with it?” would do really) is not the best tactic for solving the issue.

The sad this is that by the time I get home I’m too tired to cook all the lovely things I see online and in my magazines or to think of anything on my own. So I make soup in the crockpot or live off the everlasting grace that is the fact that my Indo/Chinese Apo lives with me. I stave off the hunger for better food while biking (a decent average of 35mph for 60-80 min) and then watching TV or simply face planting (as easily as one can in a loft bed) and getting in just barely enough of an REM-cycle before waking up and starting another day. It’s not an existence I’m particularly fond of.

I’m not complaining, however. Having a job in this area at the amounts I’m making is nothing to sneeze at and I am putting away a considerable amount for another step forward in life as soon as I decide what that will be and how much it will cost. But whatever it is there had better be more time to cook involved because I honestly feel lost without a day or two with no one in the house, my poor leaking fridge (he’s older than I am!), and a head full of plans to just cook and cook and cook. I used to do that a lot. It was fun. It was fulfilling. I miss it. Now I go to people’s houses nearly empty handed (going completely empty handed would just be rude) and I feel… Naked.

I titled this post “J’ai Faim” not only because I literally am hungry and ready to leave this place and go home for dinner but because I feel empty. I supposed I’m not the only one out there like this. Not people who feel like if they haven’t cooked they are on vacation but people who feel like cooking IS their vacation.

I don’t have Gma duty this weekend (although I do have students and a trip to Nando’s (Yay!) on Sunday) so that means I should schedule some vacation time. Friday is about to become cooking day. And I take the GastroGasms pledge as follows:

The GastroGasms Pledge

I pledge to take time out of my week to take part in the sacred art of creating at least one dish or recipe that I have not tried before.

I pledge to take this act of creation very seriously.

I pledge to look for more meaning in my life.

I believe that cooking has the power to heal our souls and our relationships with others and I pledge do my best to perfect my skills in the kitchen so that I can begin the healing process. As a part of this I pledge to share what I make with those who are special to me and to new friends that I will make in the process of sharing my experiences.

And I pledge to be awesome at all times throughout the process.

Take the pledge with me and let’s do some serious cooking!

Here is what I’m thinking to try this weekend:

Breakfast Bread: I’ve been falling behind on my project/promise to make more breads this year.

Find the pasta machine in the basement and USE IT (Pasta Verde)

French Onion Soup (This recipe happens to be a crockpot recipe, which would be nice too. I happen to love this soup and haven’t had it in years. And I’m not a huge soup person.)

What about you, Dear Reader? What will you be making this weekend? Do you have a Pledge? Have you taken the GastroGasms Pledge? Tell us! Share with us! Join Us… Okay, that sounded a little creepy. I’m sorry. Didn’t mean for it to get awkward and creepy there.

His Uncle Ordered Popovers, I Made My Own (And so can you!)

Several years ago my family went up to Chicago where my dad was having his annual Computer Science teacher’s conference. There are so many, many, jokes that can be made about this annual gathering but I shall restrain myself. The campus where this particular conference was being held also happened to be a campus where “Dr. Seuss” , the most commonly recognized pen name for children’s philosophist Theodor Seuss Geisel, gave the following commencement speech titled “My Uncle Terwilliger on the Art of Eating Popovers”:

“My uncle ordered popovers
from the restaurant’s bill of fare.
And, when they were served,
he regarded them with a penetrating stare.
Then he spoke great words of wisdom
as he sat there on that chair:
“To eat these things,” said my uncle,
“You must exercise great care.
You may swallow down what’s solid,
but you must spit out the air!”
And as you partake of the world’s bill of fare,
that’s darned good advice to follow.
Do a lot of spitting out the hot air.
And be careful what you swallow.” 

Until I had read this speech/poem I had never heard of popovers. I’d only been living in the “Western World” for about 2 or 3 years at that point and all my western culture had come from either my mother or video taped segments of television my grandpa had lovingly made for me. At home we ate mostly rice or noodles unless my mom had one of her “orang putih” (directly translated as “white person”) fits and needed herself a proper sandwich, in which case we got bread.

At first I asked my dad what a popover was. He said it must be something edible and left it at that until he found me something to look at online. I was fascinated.

Green Eggs and Ham – By Dr. Seuss

Now I’ve heard of people making green eggs and ham for there kids and I applaud them for all the work but this recipe is SO much easier and a lot better tasting (not to mention I don’t eat pork so the whole ham thing is out for me). This recipe comes originally from the “Joy of Cooking” which is excellent Gastrotica for anyone looking for a good culinary manual.

Popovers

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon butter (melted)

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
  2. Grease and flour a muffin tin (or a popover tin if you happen to have one)
  3. Whisk all ingredients together until blended. (I told you it was easy)
  4. Bake at 450 F for 15 minutes then reduce temperature to 350 F and continue baking for 20 minutes.
  5. Serve hot.

Note: Just change the temp on your oven. Do not open the oven or remove the popovers during this process.

Because popovers turn out either extremely light and fluffy or hollow on the inside (I’ve had them turn out both ways with this same recipe) there are so many different things you can eat them with. The favorite with most people is to go sweet with some butter and jam but I prefer a good mustard and thinly sliced cheddar cheese. Cream cheese is also good but sometimes they’re just fine with a little melted butter. If you’re having guests over and you don’t have a lot else being served you should be aware that these go fast and you might want to consider making a double recipe.

One spring break in college, when the rest of my family got to go to the same conference in Tennessee, I practically lived off of these. I was attending two different universities at the time and so I didn’t get a spring break. I needed something I could make fairly easily and still make my bus in the morning.